Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

To all my dear friends. Though we are far apart, I am with you in spirit. May the coming year bring health, happiness, and peace for us all. (click on the photo for a larger view)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Lady Day

Born Eleanora Fagan in 1915, Billie Holiday was a brilliant and beautiful, but ultimately very troubled, jazz singer and songwriter who had a life long struggle with drugs and alcohol. One of her most poignant songs was "Strange Fruit," based on a poem about lynching written by Abel Meeropol, a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx. She died virtually penniless at the age of 44.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

C'Est Si Bon

Check it out. You'll love it.

A Legend in Her Own Time

Chicago, 1996

JET: "No one does it like Eartha Kitt...winning rave reviews for her portrayal of the late jazz legend Billie Holiday in the musical, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill." 

Chicago Sun-Times: "The result is a fascinating hybrid--part Kitt, part Holiday and wholly mesmerizing."

Chicago Tribune: "Kitt finds the tenderness, hope and dignity that were Holiday's..."

It was one of those experiences that you never forget. She will be missed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Christmas Wish for You

Peace, love, and happiness for you and your loved ones.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Unconditional Love

My maternal grandmother Anna passed away on December 29, 1954. Though I was raised by Anna and Clark for most of my first ten years, Clark was not my biological grandfather. So after the funeral, my father and stepmother took me to live with them. I only saw Clark once or twice afterwards but his unconditional love has been a lifelong comfort and inspiration.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saving the Economy

I spent most of today wrapping and stickering.

Once, when I was about six years old, my grandparents couldn't afford even the most minimal presents. I spent Christmas eve wrapping old toys and clothes, pretending they were from Santa. God, it must have broke their hearts.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just a KISS Away Jeopardy

a) Teenage angst with style
b) Self-expression with a smile
c) Heavy metal gone wild

Why I Love Living in the Country

It's freezing out here in Hollister. But there are rewards that come with winter. On Tuesday, I took my camera with me when I went out to feed the horses and chickens. These of some of my favorites.

Monday, December 15, 2008

When It's Dark Enough

San Benito County, home of Fremont Peak Observatory, has passed a dark sky ordinance, declaring itself a “light free” oasis.

When it's dark enough
you can watch the stars
climb Fremont Peak
away from cars
no neon streams
streetlights or bars

Lights out here
allow lights up there
untainted sky
unlimited night
unfettered wishes
unsullied light

Silent House

So, it's a Sunday night and there's no Rachel Maddow (yeah, yeah, I'm back) and I'm checking out some pre-recorded programs. I check out an old Austin City Lights and it's Crowded House. They have a folksy rock sound that I like. Then they're doing a song that really catches my attention: Silent House. I look up the lyrics and see that it's first released by Dixie Chicks. Next I go to YouTube and find a haunting version by a guy whose handle is blackandwh1teboy. Please check it out. It's beautiful.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Women

The women in her life
were dark-eyed;
kept pots of soup on the burner
for unexpected guests,
laughed at jokes no one else understood.
They shopped at thrift stores
choosing clothes for their color, texture
or, like their lovers,
for their possibilities.

The women in her life
were adopted aunties, mostly childless.
They grew stronger with age.
At night the wind skittered
out their open windows
carrying laughter
and hope
to the women without dreams.

"It's My Birthday

and I'll predict doom and gloom if I wanna!" Michel de Nostredame, French physician, astrologer and clairvoyant In this time of 24 hour news cycles fueled by dire predictions, he would have been a mega media star.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lightning Strikes Twice (revised)

On a cold December night some 25 years ago, I broke my right ankle while dancing a jig at Molly Malone's in LA. Last night, my son John broke his right tibia (not ankle) while trying to block his daughter's fall on the ice rink in San Jose. Let us hope that Isabelle will not feel compelled to continue this odd family tradition.

Kissing Cousins

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Into the Wee Hours

One night I couldn't sleep and while channel surfing came across Julieta Venegas. Her music is described as "an eclectic mix of rhythm and harmony" incorporating, among other things, "a tuba, clarinet, xylophone, flute and a string quartet." Check out "El Presente" on YouTube. (Unfortunately, the link can't be embedded, so you'll be signed out of the blog when you click below :>)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Post-Retirement Blues?

I'm stuck and can't get up from the computer! I check my email every few minutes, browse useless websites, screen my phone calls to avoid taking a substitute teaching assignment. I'm even bored with Rachel and MSNBC!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Help, I'm Falling & I Can't Get Up

I'm so sore I can't move but I am also the proud parent of a brand new "slab on grade." After two days of back-breaking work, we have made a huge leap in the construction saga. There's still lots of work to be done but it feels great to be here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gone But Never Forgotten

Three years ago today I lost my dear, dear friend Chris Ballin to non-Hodgkins Lymphona. Chris was a remarkable woman and an inspiration to all who knew her. In a time where opportunities for women and Latinos were very limited, she broke through many barriers and built a successful career within the corporate world.

Later, she chose to leave money and status behind, moved to Lake Tahoe, and devoted herself to helping immigrant families in need. She left a lasting impact on all who crossed her path. She will live forever in our memories.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lacking Anything Exciting To Do

Cindy and I just created a new blog for our Harper Street Women Writers group. We're hoping everyone will post writing there.

The blog name is Cindy has already posted something!
Happy day after Thanksgiving to everyone!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Sense of Belonging

One of my favorite times as a child was family gatherings at Mamaw and PawPaw's house in Ropesville, Texas. There were tables groaning with roast turkey, dressing, candied yams, cream corn, green beans, cakes, pies, and jugs of sweetened ice tea. Best of all was the slew of cousins to play with. (I'm in the backrow between my grandparents.) Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things Are Not Always As They Appear

Some times I feel stuck, impotent, full of self-pity.
I just want to lie down and wait until it's all over.
Fortunately this wasn't one of those days :>)

Jackson Pollock #5

Not one of the nicest guys in the world, but a fascinating artist. Check out to create your own masterpiece. It's printable but I don't think you can save it as a file. Great fun!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Think That I Shall Never See

Autumn is morphing into winter here in Hollister. Leaves are long gone, portable fans are replaced with portable heaters, and the cat follows me around hoping for a warm lap.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Taking a Deep Breath

So, what's next?

Super John

I didn't have an indoor toilet until I went to live with my dad and stepmom at the age of ten. So watching John work on the initial plumbing for my new bathroom takes on special significance.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Women's Work

is never done! I imagine Isabelle taking care of me in my old age. Bringing me soup, fetching the mail, and fighting off her dad when he decides I should go live in the old folk's home!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Am I Blue

Blue Nude, Pablo Picasso, 1902
Like the 4th graders I used to teach, I seem to require constant stimulation. When all else fails, I turn to shopping. Not for anything I need but for the act itself. The greatest beneficiaries are my local thrift stores. When they fail me, I'm blue, blue, blue indeed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Crazy Daisy

Living in the country comes with mandatory actions.
Like getting a dog.

Daisy, our three year old Queensland/McNab/Border Collie mix does all the things that country dogs do: chases birds, eats poop, and barks at everything. Recently, however, she's taken to eating the walnuts. Amanda, my son's girlfriend spent a couple of hours shelling a big bowl of them. Daisy spent about 30 seconds eating them all up. Bad Daisy!

A Capitol Idea

208 years ago today the US Congress held it's first session in Washington, DC. It's been a fist fight ever since. Let's hope they can get their act together soon, bailing out the boat before we all sink.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Amazing Grace

lives on a rambling, shambling swath of land outside Mt. Rainier. Created from bits and pieces of wood, metal, plastic, bones, and fiber this menagerie of heroes and horses, dinosaurs and demons astounds. Go see it if you can.
(click on picture to enlarge)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gone Fishing

for a decent cup of coffee. See you in about a week!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008

One Small Step for Womankind

I spent the afternoon helping John (and Isabelle :>) build the forms for the concrete pad. It's so exciting! And also a lot of heavy duty work. The top photo shows the view I'll have from my kitchen window. Plan to come have coffee some morning!

Friday, October 31, 2008

OK, So I'm Getting Crazed

Rachel Maddow is the greatest thing to happen to news since the invention of the internet. In case you haven't happened upon MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, check it out. It's funny, sophisticated, and captures the essence of what's going on in the circus we call politics. Enjoy!

No on 8

Vote like our democracy depends on it.
Because it does.
(click on the photo to enlarge)

Studs Terkel 1912-2008

In a former life, I had the privilege of meeting Studs Terkel in his recording studio in Chicago. I was accompanied by Jenny Joseph, the British poet who wrote the poem When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple. They chatted for almost an hour, exploring writing, politics, culture, the Great Wars. I felt like Cinderella at a literary ball, hoping that midnight would never come.

At 96, he was likely ready to depart. Those who knew him, even so tangentially, would wish that he could live forever. For more information,


My yard sign lasted about 48 hours. Shame, shame, shame!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"In Politics, Strangely Enough,

the best way to play your cards is to lay them face upwards on the table." H.G. Wells

H.G. and I share a birthday and a fondness for the past. His "Outline of History" (which has remained in print since 1920) is a personal favorite. 70 years ago today, a radio dramatization of his "War of the Worlds," narrated by Orson Welles, sent the country into hysteria in the belief that it was an actual event. Wonder what he (or Orson) would think about this election season?